Saturday, April 12, 2008

Conversations with Sarah - Part I

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I have been emailing with a fellow client of my midwife's, and a fellow-hyperemesis-gravidarum (HG) mum. Sarah has had three babies. #1 - normal morning sickness. #2 - moderate to severe HG. #3 - life-threatening HG. She has given me permission to post from her experiences, so I am going to paste her story of her second pregnancy (the one with modernate/sever HG) below so that readers of this blog can get a taste of the even-yuckier side of HG than that which I experienced (which was quite mild by comparison). I will post the story of her third pregnancy as soon as she sends it to me! (Her little one is only 6 weeks old, so it's not too surprising that it's not been written yet!)

Sarah, if you're reading this and see anything which you do not want publicized in a public blog, tell me and I will take it out pronto!!

Here it is:

"I read your blog the other day. I was struck by a few things that I thought I would share with you. First, I think that you had it harder in some ways since you did not have access to a physician at the time of your HG. You had little choice but to keep doing what you were doing. I am also impressed at the amount of research you have done about HG treatments and preventative measures. I am interested in hearing about how your diet and the herbs change things for next time. I also appreciate you writing how you understood how women get abortions rather than endure endless nausea and vomiting. I, too, understand and was surprised at myself for relating to women who choose to end their pregnancy. I never thought I'd be in that place.

"I understand your fear in facing another pregnancy with possible HG. I did not want to have a third child because I did not want to endure hyperemesis again, and when I found out I was pregnant with Natalie I immediately spiraled into a abyss of anxiety and depression. When I began having suicidal thoughts, I knew I needed help and told my husband. I spent a week in a psych facility last June because I was a danger to myself. I never want to be in such a dark emotional place ever, ever again. It was truly a nightmare.

"My HG story with Katrina, my second baby, is not too bad. The pregnancy was a surprise, but not unwelcome. I had an 20 month old at the time and I was nursing her but soon stopped because the nausea was so bad and nursing did not seem to help (in hindsight I think it kept the HG mild). Around 7-8 weeks the nausea turned into vomiting and I started to slowly lose weight. I tried phenergan, reglan, and tigan with no relief. In fact, the side effects were so bad that I was literally pacing the hall out of restlessness. I tried accupuncture, ginger, small frequent meals, carbs, protein, exercise, B6, and who knows what else with little relief. I got IV fluids in the ER and at the birth center. Nothing helped. The vomiting got so bad that I lost about 10 pounds in a week and got down to my lowest weight of 109 (I am 5 feet 9 inches tall). At that point my midwife at the Bethany Birth Center put me in the hospital. There I got IV fluids and Zofran. Once hydrated and with the Zofran on board I felt much better and could keep down food and fluids. I was 12 weeks pregnant at the time and was hopeful that my morning sickness (as I thought it was) would end soon.

"The physician from the birth center came to see me in the hospital. He told me that I had HG and that 90% of my problems were in my head. Sadly, I believed him and felt like I should be able to think my way out of it. But somehow I realized that I did not bring my sickness upon myself. Why would I choose to endure such misery? They discharged me soon after with a prescription for more meds, although I can't remember what. It wasn't Zofran, because the doc said that it wouldn't work orally. He wouldn't even let me try it.

"I didn't gain weight in the first few days at home but I didn't lose any, either. But when the vomiting started up again I went straight to the ER for more fluids. The ER doc was puzzled why no one had tried Zofran yet and he prescibed it for me. He only gave me 3 days worth to get me through the weekend. It helped enough to keep the vomiting at bay and I wanted to keep taking it. So after the weekend was over I went to the birth center to see a midwife and get a script for more Zofran. They reluctantly wrote a prescription for about 10 more pills, told me to use them sparingly, and generally treated me as if I were seeking drugs to fuel an addiction!

"By that time I was about 14 weeks along and could make it through most days only vomiting once or twice. I was horribly constipated, though, and had to do a couple of enemas. Not that you wanted to know that, but it contributed to my misery.

"My nausea was totally gone by about 22 weeks or so and I felt pretty good the rest of the pregnancy. I knew very little about HG but I knew that I never wanted to experince it again. I did nothing to work through my feelings. Rather, I stuffed them and felt robbed of the pregnancy experience that I had wanted. So that is my story with Katrina. I have never written it out before, so thank you for giving me this outlet. I will write my Natalie story some other time because it is very, very long!"

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